Lacquered Duck
Lacquered Duck

Lacquered Duck


1 whole duck, about 2kg
90g maltose or honey (see note)
1 Tbs dark soy sauce
Mandarin pancakes, warmed, to serve (see note)
Hoisin sauce, to serve
Spring onions (scallions), cut into strips, to serve
Lebanese (short) cucumber, cut into batons, to serve

Five-spice salt:

1 Tbs sea salt
2 tsp Chinese five-spice


Maltose and mandarin pancakes are available from Asian grocers. Honey is a good substitute for maltose, but it will make the dish slightly sweeter.

Leftover lacquered duck is excellent added to fried rice.


Working from the base of the breasts and using your fingers, carefully separate the duck skin from the flesh, ensuring you don’t tear the skin. Once you can no longer reach with your fingers, use the handle of a wooden spoon to work between the skin and the flesh. Work around to separate the skin where the thigh meets the body. This ensures delicious crisp skin.

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Lay the duck breast-side up on a wire rack in the kitchen sink. Pour the boiling water over, making sure it gets inside the cavity and all over the duck. Alternatively, if you have a large enough saucepan, you can dunk the duck into the boiling water instead. When cool enough to handle, pat thoroughly dry inside and out with a paper towel.

Combine the maltose and soy sauce in a small saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth and combined. Place the duck breast-side up on a wire rack in a roasting tin and rub it all over with maltose mixture, massaging well into the skin.

To make the five-spice salt, combine the ingredients in a bowl. Rub some of the five-spice salt inside the duck cavity. Refrigerate the duck, uncovered, for 24–36 hours to dry the skin. The skin will be dry to touch and look like leather.

Pre-heat the oven to 240 C (475 F). Roast the duck for 20–30 minutes until starting to brown, then reduce the heat to 180 C. Roast for 30–35 minutes until glossy and lacquered and the duck is just cooked: a thermometer inserted into the thigh should read 70 C and the juices should run clear. Set aside to rest for 10 minutes, then carve.

Serve lacquered duck with warmed mandarin pancakes, hoisin sauce, spring onion, cucumber and remaining five-spice salt.

Credits: Images and recipes from Meat by Anthony Puharich and Libby Travers. Photography by Alan Benson (with exception of images pages 6 & 11, which are by Paul Gosney), Murdoch Books, RRP $79.99.

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